A Spanish extradition request for three Catalan politicians who fled to Belgium with former separatist leader Carles Puigdemont was rejected by a Belgian court on Wednesday, the crown prosecutor announced.
The three politicians - Antonio Comin, Lluis Puig and Meritxell Serret - were present for the hearing in a Brussels courtroom.
They are wanted in Spain, along with Puigdemont, on charges of rebellion and misuse of public funds in relation to a disputed referendum on Catalonia's secession held last year, which the Spanish Supreme Court deemed illegal.
The charges carry lengthy prison sentences.
Following Wednesday's verdict, Comin expressed hope that the dispute could now be resolved politically and not through the courts.
"We also hope that the Spanish judiciary realises that it cannot abuse the penal code to pursue political opponents," he added, according to the Belga news agency.
The Belgian prosecution had argued that the European arrest warrants were not enforceable since there were no according national warrants for the three ex-ministers.
The court also found irregularities and imprecisions in relation to the extradition request, even after the Belgian prosecution asked the Spanish judiciary for further clarification, Belga reported.
Puigdemont, who had initially also fled to Belgium, is now in Berlin, where he is fighting extradition to Spain through the German courts.